In the Community: Hinsdale Falcons Youth Football & Cheer
Player safety has been a strong point of emphasis across all sports, especially football. Jay Novatney, President of the Hinsdale Falcons Football and Cheer has pioneered the way of providing proactive injury care for the Falcons through the use of padded practice helmets, mandatory concussion baseline testing, on site injury check-ups and medical coverage at home games. We were able to talk to Jay about what makes the Falcons program so unique compared to other youth football organizations.
Achieve: Tell us a little bit about the Falcons and what sets them apart from other youth football organizations?
Jay: Hinsdale Falcon Football & Cheer has a long history, dating back to at least the early 1970s. We have been a member-franchise of the highly respected Bill George Youth Football League for almost 20 years. Our league has expanded to now include 21 western/southwestern Chicago suburban towns. We are a 100% volunteer organization committed to providing an outstanding youth tackle football and cheer experience to 2nd-8th graders in our local community. We are proud to serve as a feeder program for Hinsdale Central High School. What really sets us apart is our commitment and dedication to the sports of football and cheerleading and to teaching the fundamentals of those sports in a fun and safe environment while instilling life-long values of teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship.
Achieve: Youth football has taken a greater initiative in concussion safety and awareness, what are some ways the Falcons organization are protecting their own players when it comes to Concussions.
Jay: First and foremost, and without question, the safety of all participants in our program is our highest priority. As part of that, we take concussion safety and awareness very seriously. Among other elements of our safety program, we are proud of our long-standing partnership with Achieve which provides a qualified athletic trainer at all home Falcon football games. In addition, we require mandatory baseline testing through Achieve to be completed by each Falcon football player, at our expense, prior to the start of contact each season. We have adopted a Concussion Protocol that is reviewed by us and Achieve before each season to ensure it remains vibrant in light of current science. For many years, we have been a participating member organization of USA Football HEADS UP Football, as is each member franchise of the BGYFL. Our participation requires each of our football coaches to take and pass a comprehensive certification course prior to each season, including concussion recognition and response and minimizing contact in practice, as well as other health and safety matters such as heat preparedness/hydration, sudden cardiac arrest, and proper equipment fitting. Our USA Football membership also provides us and our coaches access to a great deal of news, information and data on the sport of football and safety. We supplement all of that by returning all of our helmets to the manufacturer at the end of each season for inspection, cleaning, repair, and reconditioning. As a result, helmets returned to us for issuance for the upcoming season have all been re-certified by the manufacturer. Several years ago, we began utilizing padded helmet covers in practice to mitigate risks of head injuries in practice.
Achieve: One thing that struck us about the Falcons program is their coaching staff, not just that every team has 4-5 coaches watching over the players, but also the level of football experience these coaches have accumulated, from high level collegiate football programs to the NFL, how valuable do you feel this leadership and experience is for these young athletes?
Jay: Our 30+ coaches are the life-blood of our program. Over the years, we have been blessed with tremendously talented, thoughtful, and committed volunteer coaches. They dedicate an incredible amount of time, both during our season from the beginning of August through the middle of November as well as in the off-season, to our program and our kids. They are truly committed to coaching our kids to be their best on and off the field. They also share an unwavering commitment to providing a fun and safe experience for every kid on their team. The combined football knowledge and experience is simply staggering and is a tremendous asset to our program. One of the guiding principles for our program and our coaches is that we all share a belief that football is the ultimate team sport and that kids that play can develop, grow, and thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally. Over the years, we have seen time and time again the joy our kids share and experience as Falcons translate into success in school and as a Hinsdale Central Red Devil football player. That is a tribute to our coaches.
Achieve: There are some parents that may still feel hesitant about signing their child up for football whether because of injuries or a bad experience with another program. what advice would you offer them?
Jay: Football is a contact sport and we cannot eliminate all risk of injury. We encourage parents with concerns to talk to us, to engage with our coaches, to visit a practice, to watch a game, and to generally get a feel for how we operate and how much we care about each and every Falcon. Our program – and, frankly, our sport – has come a long way on safety and how the game is taught. We have found that parents who take the time to understand our program and our commitment to their child come to understand the benefits of the sport of football and how we approach it from a fun and safety perspective.
Achieve: Where can a parent register their child up for the Hinsdale Falcons this year?
Jay: Registration is online at our website at www.hinsdalefalcons.com
. Our website includes other information and FAQs. We are encouraging parents to register for the 2020 season as soon as possible as the season is quickly approaching and our teams fill up. We should note that we are very closely monitoring guidelines relating to COVID-19 for the upcoming season. Parents can also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.